Thriving While Trans: A Love Manual is a literary project with two heads. One is an upcoming multi-genre performance event. It will feature a number of different trans writers, dancers, and songwriters. The other is an anthology of writings, a copy of which comes with admission to the performances. Both the writings and performances focus on personal stories of trans thriving and resilience.
I recently spoke with Cody Pherigo, the writer and poet who’s producing the event. He also edited the “Thriving While Trans” anthology. The idea for the project came to him after a Trans Day of Remembrance gathering in 2015. “It was so depressing. I wasn’t expecting glitter and balloons, but I remember feeling the need for something uplifting.” He wanted to make something that would honor the reasons behind Trans Day of Remembrance, but at the same time offer a more positive counter-narrative, “another story, by and for trans people.”
The project coalesced around the idea of trans thriving. “The word ‘thriving’ was important no matter what,” Pherigo said of the title. “I think it’s a poem that wants to be written, but it couldn’t be done by one person because it means so many things to so many different people. There’s really particular things that can mean thriving when you’re trans.”
This variety of thrivings is mirrored in the many kinds of performances planned for the event. There will be music, modern dance, slam poetry, erotic memoir reading, and more. Pherigo intentionally planned it as a kind of trans mixtape. ”I think poetry readings are very uplifting, but sometimes I find myself getting emotionally fatigued from the intensity of it,” he said. “To have there be a flow to the evening seemed really fun.”
Though the performers will tell their stories through disparate styles, certain threads tie them together. One uniting theme that Pherigo found is thriving through relationships, “an erotic, love line which is really important.” These stories of connection provide a welcome contrast to the tropes of loneliness and unlovability that are common in representations of trans folks.
What does thriving while trans mean for Cody Pherigo? “Being sober. Showing up for people and being connected. Using my voice, being honest with friends. Taking risks and trying new things.”
Thriving While Trans while take place at SCC’s Erickson Theater on Saturday, February 2nd from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Tickets are $15.00, and half of all proceeds will be donated to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
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